First nice postcript to the previous blog entry: So, who was the winner of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival's U.S. Documentary jury prize for Best Director? Would you believe, Jon Foy? Yup, downright surreal but true!
Second nice postscript: Lots of good (and interesting!) distribution deals going down that we hope to announce shortly.
Third nice postscript: For those in the NYC area, Resurrect Dead will kick off the Spring Season of the prestigious Stranger Than Fiction series tomorrow night (Mar 29) at the IFC Center. Tickets are still available online and it's a great opportunity to see it on the big screen with Jon and the "cast" members there in person. And, hey, me too.
Last nice postscript: Recently got official word that The Kids Grow Up will have its HBO broadcast premiere on Fathers Day!
I realize all too well I haven't blogged much in the past few months. Between all the great stuff happening with Resurrect Dead, renewed outreach on The Kids in preparation for the broadcast and getting the new film off the ground, I've been a busy boy. It's hard juggling multiple projects, but being around Jon and the Resurrect Dead gang has been great fun and given me a much-needed dose of perspective. They couldn't be nicer or more genuine bunch. And Jon's sincere appreciation of all that's come his way has definitely rubbed off. It's an ongoing reminder to remember how lucky I am to be in this position. And to enjoy this moment of success for what it is, and not get bent out of shape about what it isn't.
I don't just feel rejuvinated. I feel downright resurrected.
Holy crap, the day of The Kids Grow Up theatrical premiere is here at last! It's not like our distribution ride has ended, far from it. But today represents the culmination of endless days of hard work going back for months, until everything seems, in retrospect, like one long fever dream. On the one hand, it's been enormous fun because this kind of attention and acclaim is never something to take for granted. But I'm also so ready to unwind from self-promotion auto-pilot, curl up in bed and sleep straight through for the next two weeks.
Today is a day to forget all that and simply celebrate. I'm deeply appreciative to all the people I've collaborated with in making the film. And eager to share in the moment with my family, co-workers, friends and colleagues.
And, most of all, with total stangers. In other words, the audience. We're all curious if you'll turn out in decent numbers and looking forward to hearing what you'll say about it, yourself.
If you're in the NYC area and thinking about seeing The Kids, I'd urge you to do it this weekend. Our weekend box office numbers will impact the entire theatrical run, especially in terms of the number of cities we'll get booked in. If you're not from around here, keep checking in to our Screenings page and see if it will soon be playing at a theater somwhat near you. If not, you can always bug your local theater owner about it - they might just listen.
And now, our premiere party preparations continue! Hope to see you at the theaters soon.
Our country is apparently suffering a serious shortage of modern media men. There couldn't have been more than 75 people attending this first national gathering of men-folk bloggers, almost all of whom, like me, were flown down to be speakers. While seriously depressing for the M3 organizers, not to mention the dozen or so sponsors sitting all alone at their booths, it was a bonanza for Yours Truly. Just a fantastic opportunity to network and bond with some top dad bloggers and organizations, swap stories and tap into what will inevitably become a growing social force (even if it currently lags far behind the "mommy blogger" movement).
And, I might add, to personally get dozens of dvd screeners of The Kids into some very eager hands.
I tried not to harp so much on how they might help me, though obviously I'd like them to get word out to their readers or membership, at the very least. I prefered to emphasize the ways The Kids Grow Up might be of use to them, as well.
For national organizations like The Fatherhood Initiative, for instance, the fit for their mission is obvious. They're looking to foster more positive images of caring and involved fathers in the media. Check.
For the bloggers, it's any number of things: giving them some new and interesting content to share with their readers, making them feel like they're a vital part of our DIY online marketing effort (which they absolutely are), and giving them first dibs at a film that speaks to their own experiences as dads. Triple check.
Like I've said before, when you're trying to get a movie out into the commercial marketplace on a very limited budget (which includes virtually no money for print ads), you need to enlist some passionate advocates with the widest platform to chat it up. On my desk now are 30 business cards from those I gave screeners to and who seemed genuinely excited about seeing The Kids Grow Up and helping out in whatever way they can.
Promotion aside, I wish I could say I came away from the M3 Summit with profound new insights about social networking, brand building or the changing role of fathers, though all of that was discussed at length.
I did come away knowing there are some truly dedicated dads out there who are equally determined to share their experiences of fatherhood publicly. As well as feeling like I made some genuine connections and friendships that will carry well beyond my efforts to get this one film out into the world.
Mission more than accomplished.
9:50 EST - Ok, I give Cal Ripken credit. Expected he'd just roll in, do a 15-minute shtick, collect his substantial fee and beat it. But he spent almost an hour giving a talk by the indoor pool, telling baseball stories with leadership themes, answering questions, posing for photos and signing autographs (the dire warnings apparently didn't come from him). Can't say he said anything particularly memorable but it was a living example of his impressive ironman work ethic. Couldn't bring myself to hand him a dvd, though I had my chance. It just felt too cheesy.
Afterwards, talked to a few bloggers over drinks and chicken wings. They seemed genuinely excited by The Kids, eager to see it. These guys want to shoot an interview tomorrow. Another is pushing a book driven by his popular blog and is clearly knowlegable about how to drive sales online. Collected a handful of business cards, now flavored with medium hot sauce.
I came in with pretty moderate expectations but this could be a very fruitful few days.
6:14pm EST - On the flight down to Atlanta I try to push out of my mind the dozens of outreach emails I need to crank out and try to focus on the task at hand.
The main one, of course, is I have a film about daddyhood that I want every last daddy blogger here to know -- and blog -- about. For that I've lugged the usual assortment of screeners, postcards and business cards, and actually given some thought to what I'll say on my Saturday panel. Hopefully I can muster a dollop of personal charm, as well.
Since I want every last daddy (and mommy and son and daughter) to know about The Kids, too, I'm eager to sharpen my social networking skill set. The M3 website promises that I'll learn all sorts of cutting edge tips and strategies for "harnessing the excitement and electricity of the Internet’s latest buzz" to build my brand.
But beyond all the Self-Promotion 2.0 stuff, I really do have a larger goal. And that's simply to get beyond any preconceptions about what the M3 Summit is and be open to what can happen when a bunch of thoughtful men who share their day-to-day experiences of fatherhood online get together in one place for a few days. I'm not just eager for a social media revitalization. I need to get my manhood mojo rising.
On that note, I'm about to head off to the opening night party featuring baseball great Cal Ripken, Jr. We've been warned ahead of time not to ask Cal for autographs, not to take photos or to record him in any way, shape or form (all cell phones are to be confiscated at the door). Dire consequences are in store for anyone who disobeys.
But nobody said nuthin' about giving him a dvd screener. Hmmm...
When you have a movie opening soon in theaters that's essentially a documentary about your daughter (ok, it's a lot more, but still) and you have little money to market it, you better get pretty damned creative with your marketing. And you better get your sorry ass in gear and start blogging, too.
That's why I'll be in Atlanta for the next 3 days at a noteworthy event called the Modern Media Man Summit. Saturday morning I'll be speaking on a panel called "Over-Sharing: When it comes to your family, how much is too much?" It's meant for bloggers but could there possibly be a more apropos topic for someone who makes personal docs about his family (not to mention, his teenage daughter!)?
If nothing else, the Summit should bring up lots of food for thought. How are men experiencing fatherhood these days? How are they writing about it? Will the "daddy blogger" movement ever grow to anywhere near the level of "mommy bloggers"? Where oh where is the male Dooce?
I'm bringing along my adorable new notebook laptop, will take it all in like a sponge and hopefully be a bloggin' and twitterin' fool. So check back often, I'll be updating my posts throughout the event.
In one of the all-time great gigs of my doc "career", I was recently hired as story consultant by perhaps the world's most beautiful woman, Christy Turlington Burns, for her film No Woman, No Cry. It turns out Christy is one of the world's nicest people, too, and when it comes to the subject of public health, one of the smartest.
For those who think super-models are all airheads, No Woman, No Cry is going to be a whopping surprise. It's a very strong and urgent documentary on the subject of worldwide maternal mortality, shot in four countries by the hugely talented Kirsten Johnson and produced by Dallas Brennan Rexer. It's having its world premiere tomorrow at the Tribeca Film Festival and they just added another screening since all the others have sold out.
On the eve of her first public showing, I'm really excited for Christy and Dallas and the entire team. And now, after all that effort, I hope they can enjoy themselves this week and bask in the glory. Because, as we all know, now that the film is finished, their work is only half done.
If you’ve seen the trailer for The Kids Grow Up you know that during the year the story primarily takes place my wife Marjorie came down with a serious episode of depression. It was truly horrendous to point a camera at her in that condition, and a very brief interview was all either of us could withstand. But destigmatizing depression is very important to us both, and the footage wouldn’t be in the finished film had she not seen it early on in the editing and given her blessing.
Still, seeing the completed film for the first time before an audience of over 200 people is quite another matter. Marjorie arrived in Amsterdam last week just in time for our second IDFA screening. I had her join me for the audience Q&A immediately afterwards and, sure enough, the very first question was whether it was difficult to see herself so exposed on screen. Here’s her answer in a short Flip clip…<
With the Sat night world premiere screening of The Kids Grow Up looming, and the whole production team heading off for the airport in 15 minutes, we're still buzzing around doing all the usual things we've left for the very last minute.
Didn't help that the updated 3-minute trailer completely disappeared from the film website when I tried to publish a new blog entry a few hours ago. Still not fixed as we speak, have to trust our designer will get to it while we're in the air. Maeve came back for a day and made some nice tweaks, and now that it's entirely scored by our composer, H. Scott Salinas, it finally captures the bittersweet feel of the film.
So, one last look around. Postcards and labels- check. International replacement cell phone - check. Itinerary and Google Map printouts to make sense of all the screenings and meetings and parties - check. Blog, Facebook, Twitter updates finished - check! Ambien for the red-eye flight over - check!!! (phew)
I have my Flip video camera with me, and I'll try to post a couple of Flip Clips during the festival if I can find the time and wherewithal. And I'll definitely post about how things are going. And now, off we go...
I’ll post the screening dates and times when they become available (on Nov 7th, we hear), but the festival itself runs from November 19th thru 29th. The huge international success of 51 BIRCH STREET was pretty much a direct result of our European premiere at IDFA in 2005, so it promises to be really exciting. Three of our four broadcasters are located in Europe (ZDF/Arte, Channel 4 and VPRO), and it will be helpful to talk over future projects in person with them there. And, if that weren’t enough, Lori and I are producers of another film that’s having its’ world premiere at IDFA: Amy Hardie’s THE EDGE OF DREAMING. It’s an extraordinary personal documentary that’s screening in the competition for feature-length documentary, and I’ll be writing about it much more in the near future.